The Intern Report: How Oregon Businesses Profit From Local Productions
This is the final installment of the “Intern Report”, a series of 4 articles about the Oregon businesses that work with the production industry. This last segment takes us to a printing company in Southeast Portland called OBP Digital. Thanks for reading!
Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television
Astute readers of this series will remember that for my first interview I rode my bicycle across Portland to Jacobsen’s Flowers. Since then my interviews have taken place in distant lands like Clackamas, so unfortunately I had to relegate myself to driving. My final interview however, puts me back on two wheels for a short ride to meet Scott of OBP Digital, a southeast Portland printing company.
The company’s founder, Scott’s grandfather Walter Jr., started the business over 70 years ago when he emigrated from England. Some of the first printing jobs the company did were maps for the military during World War II, and the company has managed to stay at the forefront of almost every technological innovation in printing since its founding. During the 1980’s they operated the most used color Xerox copier in the world, a surprising fact for a company in a relatively small city like Portland.
I was curious at first what exactly producers would need from a printing company, besides the occasional promotional poster. I’m sure if they could save money by printing production assistants Scott would have plenty of work. But as Scott explains his dealings with the producers of Leverage, it becomes clear that the two companies in fact do a lot of business together. Leverage is shot in Portland but takes place in Boston, so whenever a scene is shot in a distinctly non-Boston locale, OBP Digital prints dozens of signs, car decals, and backdrops to turn Stump Town into Bean Town. Scott claims that he often prints fake elevator buttons, though I’d be interested to know how Boston elevators differ from ones in Portland. In any case, this process of temporarily re-decorating Portland’s public places brings in about $1000 per week for OBP Digital.
Of the larger projects Scott has done for Leverage, the most demanding one came to him early in the show’s first season. The producers were caught in a bind when they realized that an office building they had used for a pilot episode, before they settled on Boston as a location, had a sweeping view of downtown Portland. They needed an exterior night-time view however, so Scott designed and printed a massive backdrop for the exterior of the building, backlighting it to give the impression of dusky Boston skyline. The whole fracas cost Leverage $6000, but judging from the photo Scott pulled it off immaculately.
Scott says that he and his brother, who runs the company with him, have worked with production before Leverage, and hope to work with more in the future. With Leverage having secured funding a few weeks ago for a 4th season, it looks like at least one customer will be coming back!